August 26, 2016
No. 18 Hokies pull away in home opener
Tech downs ECU, 5-1, at Thompson Field
East Carolina (1-2) 101
Virginia Tech (3-0) 145
  • Thompson Field - 1,173

BLACKSBURG – Four second-half goals helped the No. 18 Virginia Tech women’s soccer team open its 2016 home season with a bang, as the Hokies knocked off East Carolina, 5-1, tonight, at Thompson Field.

East Carolina controlled possession early on, as sophomore Courtney Cash scored an unassisted goal just five minutes into the first half. It wasn’t until the 45th minute, when redshirt-freshman defender Kelsey Irwin used a free kick from 35 yards outside the box to score her first career goal as a Hokie, tying the game at 1-1 heading into the locker room.

With the game tied at one apiece, the Hokies received the cushion they desired in the 51st minute, as junior Alani Johnson tallied her first game-winner of the year and third of her career. Johnson played the ball off a goal kick from freshman goalkeeper Mandy McGlynn. McGlynn placed the ball downfield, as Johnson sprinted up the middle of the pitch for the go-ahead score.

Tech finished with a 16-9 edge in shots, placing eight on-goal, giving ECU’s goalkeeper Caroline Jeffers three saves on the day. The Hokies also held a 4-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Momentum shifted the Hokies’ way for good in the 72nd minute, as the team scored back-to-back goals in just 46 seconds for the second game in a row. Johnson logged her second goal of the night, as freshman Chandler McDaniel tallied the assist. Junior Laila Gray’s added the second goal just 46 seconds later to put the Hokies’ up 4-1 on the scoreboard. Cephers earned the assist on the goal, the first of her career.

Freshman Bridget Patch scored the Hokies’ fifth and final goal of the night, also tallying the first goal of her Hokie career.


“The girls played with a little bit more desire and intensity in the second half. I think we lacked a little bit in the first half. We were unlucky going down early. It was a really well taken goal. We gave the ball away. We were a little sloppy at the back, but the girl buried it on her team. She took her chance, and we were just down early. I am really happy that we were able to score before the first half ended to tie it. Otherwise, we would of went into halftime a little bit more tight. We were able to press and have a little bit more energy from the second half on.”

“I think they (young players) showed some tenacity. (Bridget) Patch scored her first goal. Kelsey (Irwin) got her first goal. Alani (Johnson) had two big goals for us, which was good. We were hungry, and those girls showed it. They showed it since the beginning of training camp. They have been fit and fresh. They have been taking care of what they need to do. We need a little bit more of that from the whole group. We need to get into game shape, and then we will get better as the season progresses.”

“Sunday, we play a very hungry James Madison team who is always difficult to play. They are hardworking and solid. They are passionate about playing against us. It’s a little bit of an in-state rivalry, so they are going to be hungry and ready. We have to recover tomorrow and prepare for a very good James Madison team.”

“We were pleased that we were able to play 24 kids, so that’s good. The kids have to understand if they are going to be playing, they have to play with a little bit more competitive spirit to start. We have players that can step in for the players that are not doing their jobs. The girls did a good job tonight, and looking at the group, Chandler McDaniel found some time. She has some legs. She had a slow time adjusting, but she did a great job tonight. (Bridget) Patch showed energy and passion, and Alani (Johnson) worked well off her. I think it was good. We are pleased with that.”


The Hokies are now 12-0-2 in home openers since Thompson Field opened in 2003 … Tech played a season high 24 student-athletes on the night … Junior Alani Johnson tallied her fourth multi-goal game of her career … With the win, the Hokies are now 4-0-1 all-time against East Carolina, holding a 2-0 mark in Blacksburg.


The Hokies travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia, for a match against James Madison on Sunday, Aug. 28. First kick is set for 7 p.m.


Fans can follow all the action during each match of the 2016 season by following the 2016 squad on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

For updates on Virginia Tech women's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter

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